By Christie Post - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – A former youth prison leader is free after a late Monday night verdict from a Lubbock jury.
John Paul Hernandez, 45, was found not guilty in 14 counts of 11 indictments for molesting boys in his care at the West Texas State School in Pyote from 2004 to 2005. When the verdict was read, Hernandez dropped his head while his family members rejoiced after a big weight was lifted from their shoulders.
After two weeks of testimony and six hours of deliberations, Hernandez heard the verdict he had been praying for. Wednesday marks six years since allegations surfaced about him. He chose not to speak all these years to the media now he's breaking his silence.
"I first and foremost want to make peace with God and relieve all the hard feelings I've developed these last six years. One of them I did last night, I shook hands with the ranger," said John Paul Hernandez, Former principal.
Hernandez's attorney, Albert Valadez said Hernandez's life was turned upside down from the false accusations.
"He lost his job teaching, it's hurt him in the community among those who did not know him. But fortunately those who do know John and have known John never wavered in their support," said Albert Valadez, John Paul Hernandez attorney.
Hernandez faced up to 20 years in prison for sexual assault and improper relationship between an educator and a student. All of his accusers testified telling jurors that Hernandez talked about pornography and fetishes before sexually abusing them. Hernandez just wants to know why they lied when they took the stand.
"They would not look me in the eye, they would not even look my direction. And I just wanted to stand up and yell, look at me you are saying these horrible things, look me in the eye and say it," said Hernandez.
Valadez said the fact that Hernandez took the stand in his own defense helped jurors understand what kind of person he is.
"This jury listened to the evidence, paid attention, went over the testimony and considered it variable. The jurors that I spoke with said they found John Paul to be very believable," said Valadez.
Valadez thinks changing the venue to Lubbock was the best thing for Hernandez. "We're very happy that we had this trial in Lubbock. We had a very good group of people that were very conscientious and very intelligent. We thank them for their hard work and are glad it's over," said Valadez.
"I've had to alter so much of my life because of it," said Hernandez.
You may remember the facility where Hernandez worked closed last summer stemming from these sexual abuse allegations.
Ray Brookins, the former assistant superintendent of the facility is the only prison official convicted for sexual abuse. He was sentenced to ten years behind bars.
Now, Hernandez's attorney said the next step is to clear his name by expunging the accusations from local, state and federal records. As for Hernandez, he said he now wants to teach at the collegiate level.
Copyright 2011 KCBD. All rights reserved.